HIV/AIDS, Children's Rights and Gender Equality in Uganda's Universal Primary Education

By Doris M. Kakuru.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in Uganda and efforts to eradicate gender inequalities, the task is not yet complete. The persistence of inequalities reflects enduring children’s educational rights violations even with Uganda’s ratification of various international treaties relating to children’s rights. Data reported in this article were collected from an in-depth ethnographic study in Luweero district in Uganda between June 2004 and June 2005. Drawing on the capability approach to gender equality and the 4-A educational rights scheme, this paper highlights pupils’ educational rights violations in UPE. The research shows that HIV/AIDS reinforces existing inequalities in pupils’ capabilities to attend school, remain in school, access learning materials and other requirements such as lunch and clothing. HIV/AIDS changes pupils’ social and personal characteristics. Some pupils become orphans, their living arrangements are altered, and their poverty situation is worsened, implying that their capabilities to be and to do things they value are deprived. This suggests that as long as there is poverty and overdependence on household labour for subsistence, securing children’s rights to compulsory education might remain problematic. Although all pupils were exposed to capability denial and therefore violation of rights, girls in particular faced compounded denial and violation. For example, they suffered sexual harassment and associated consequences. Apart from sexual harassment, a repertoire of rights issues endures in schools. The role of HIV/AIDS in the perpetuation of children’s rights infringement cannot be over-emphasised. This paper uncovers the magnitude of gender inequality in pupils’ capabilities to enjoy educational rights in the era of HIV/AIDS.

Keywords: Gender Equality, Capability, Educational Rights, HIV/AIDS, Uganda

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp.137-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 598.067KB).

Dr. Doris M. Kakuru

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda


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